OT XXIX [B]IS 53: 10-11; HEB 4: 14-16; MK 10: 35-45
It may sound unbelievable, but it is true that
first Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Rabindranath Tagore, was behind the
three great national anthems of three great nations,
Bangladesh, India and . He was also the first
non-westerner to win the Nobel Prize in literature. He did so in 1913. He wrote
this short poem: Sri Lanka
I slept and dreamt that life was Joy; Then I awoke and realized
that life was Service.
And then I went to work - and, lo and behold, I discovered that
Service is Joy.
Today’s gospel teaches us that true happiness comes from surrendering ourselves completely in humble service to God through Christ. The CEO in Jesus’ kingdom is the one who serves the needs of all the others. For Jesus, true service means putting our gifts at the disposal of others.
The request of James and John in this gospel revealed their lack of understanding of true leadership. They were looking for positions of power and prestige. They thought that leadership came from where you sat rather than how you served. The other disciples were angry and resentful at James and John's attempt for preferment. Obviously, they're looking for power and prestige too, just as much as the two brothers.
If you are angry you are involved somehow; you too are in the running. If the others were not also thinking just like James and John, they would not be angry with them, they would simply pity them; they would take them aside and have a little brotherly chat with them. But they were angry, they were in no way different from them – except that they were cleverer, less forthright. It is always instructive to look with clear sight at our anger. It always has something to tell us.
In today’s culture there is an over emphasis on our actions which leads us to prize our jobs. People are proud of being a manager, a supervisor, a boss, a director. And it is overused precisely because rank and status are confused with our identity, and because they are prized. The mistake is to think that important jobs make us important people. They do not. Nor does the lack of such importance make us unimportant.
What do success and failure mean? It does not mean to be head of the pack. Success is not measured by comparing one's achievements against the achievements of one's "competitors."
Alexander Woolcott, one of the most famous alumni of
was asked to give a major address at the college's centennial celebration.
Woolcott gave a memorable speech which began with these words: "I send my
greetings today to all my fellow alumni of Hamilton College, New York ,
scattered all over the world. Some of you are successes, and some of you are
failures - only God knows which are which!" This is a wonderful reminder
to us that in our measurement of success and failure, "God's thoughts are
not our thoughts, nor are our ways God's ways. As the heavens are higher than
the earth, so are God's ways higher than our ways, and God's thoughts than our
thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). Hamilton College
For Jesus success means people realizing and fulfilling God's dream for them. Jesus tells us, contrary to popular thinking, that anybody cannot be anything. Before people come into this world, divine providence has already crafted a dream for each person to live out. We do not come into life to write our own job description, we come with a divine job description in our hands and with the physical and mental traits necessary to get the job done. God has an intended destination for which He created you and me. But whether you and I attain this destination or not depends on how we cooperate with God's grace.
Greatness consisted, not in reducing other men to one's service, but in reducing oneself to their service. Such people are considered great. Hannibal Barca was a military commander of the
army in 247 BC. He led a famous campaign in the second Punic War against the
Roman army, remaining undefeated until the very gates of Carthage . What was the secret of his success. He was a man who led by example.
He would sleep among his soldiers and would not wear anything that made him
distinct above his soldiers. He would lead the armies into battle and be the
last to leave the battlefield. Even today he stands as a model for leadership. Rome
Jesus told his disciples plainly what his mission was, how he was going to accomplish it and what should be the criteria of greatness among his disciples. He summarized his mission in one sentence: "The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." According to Jesus, greatness consists not in what we have, nor in what we can get from others but in what we give to others. Jesus thus overturned all our values, teaching us that true greatness consists in loving, humble, and sacrificial service. For Jesus, true service means putting our gifts at the disposal of others. For our contemporaries Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa, greatness lay in the giving of their whole self to the very lowest, treating them as brothers and sisters and living close to them. Every position of power calls for humble service.
The best place to begin the process of ―self-giving," is in our own homes and in the workplace. We have to look upon our education, training, and experience as preparation for service to others. All of us feel comfortable serving who are rich, strong, handsome or beautiful. But to serve the poor, weak and unattractive is a challenge.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus connects service with suffering. Suffering and service go hand in hand. Service always involves suffering because one can’t help another without some personal sacrifice.
Dr. Lloyd Judd practiced medicine in rural
. He had to
drive to their homes to treat
people. One day he checked into a
hospital and learned that he had
terminal cancer. His thoughts
turned to his children. He had a
lot to tell them, but they were
too little to understand. So he recorded a set of tapes for them. One dealt
with with practicing medicine. He
said to his children: "Are
you willing to get out of a warm
bed on a cold night and drive 20
miles to see a sick person,
knowing that they can't pay you
and couldn’t wait until morning
to be treated? If you can say yes
to that question, you are ready
to study medicine.” Oklahoma
We are a community of equals and we share in the responsibilities of being community. In order to be effective, we need leaders who will help us to form a relationship that will assist us to become what we must be in order to wash one another’s feet. We require leaders to call us to the ways of social justice. Let’s remember that we have a leader who washed his followers’ feet and cooked fish for them on the
after his resurrection. He always walks before us like a shepherd allowing us
to see what he does and giving us what we need. Let’s pray that we may have
political and religious leaders who really serve the people and faithful rather
than like to be served. sea of Tiberius